By 2025, Millennials will make up about 75% of the workforce, so methods for attracting and retaining employees will need to shift over the next six years to the needs of this population. What do millennials want? Help paying for college—or better yet, since they’ve likely graduated by the time they’ve made it the interview, help paying their student loans.

Student Loan Debt Statistics

The current student loan debt situation in the United States is commonly referred to as a “crisis”. That’s because the total student loan debt sits around 1.5 trillion dollars.

  • Average student loan debt total (per person): $31,172
  • Average Millennial annual salary is $35,592
  • Average monthly payment: $393
  • Time it takes to pay off student debt: 10 to 30 years

Why is the student loan debt so high? Well, for Boomers and Gen X, tuition was for more affordable and student loans were a last resort, not a necessary part of the college application process. Since 1971, the cost of tuition has rose 145%! Tuition, room and board, and other fees totaled out around $8.7k (in today’s equivalent currency) in 1971, while the rate for the 2018-2019 school year averaged about $21.4k. Considering this as the yearly rate and the average student loan debt total is $31k for all four years of college, the student loan debt could be worse if most students weren’t also relying on scholarships and their own paychecks to pay for their higher education.

Earning Potential

As noted above, the average Millennial annual salary is $35,592 and on top of that, their average starting salary is 20% lower than what the Boomer generation received at the same age—of course, adjust for inflation. So, it is no wonder that managing student loan debt is a high priority for Millennials, and this priority has driven them to seek employers offering benefits that could improve their student loan debt status.

Why Student Loan Debt Payment Assistance as a Benefit?

According to a survey conducted by the American Student Assistance (ASA), the nonprofit guarantor for the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), out of 500 employees aged 22 to 33 (Millennials) well over half expressed high levels of stress and worry about student loan repayment.

“Young workers feel highly stressed as a result of the burden of student debt, and that debt clearly impacts their health and productivity in the workplace,” said Kevin Fudge, director of consumer advocacy at ASA. “Employers should realize that in order to retain the brightest young talent and demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being, they need to provide concrete and straightforward solutions to help alleviate the burden of student loan debt.”

The ASA’s findings also showed the following:

  • 65% expressed the desire to seek a second job in order to afford their loan repayments.
  • 86% would commit to their employer for five years if they offered a benefit package that helped them repay their student loans.
  • If an employer offered, 79% would take advantage of speaking with a student loan debt advisor. 89% would use long-term financial planning advice and/or tools.
  • 92% said they would enroll into a benefit program that matched student loan payments; similar to an employer’s 401(k) contribution match.

While the vast majority of employees expressed interest in benefit programs that target their student loans, about 75% of those surveyed said that their current employer did not offer such benefit programs. Ask any employer benefit expert and they will likely agree—benefit programs are only successful when tailored to the workforce.

While the unemployment rate at an all-time low, student loan debt is still affecting the economy and many companies are looking for a more competitive edge—yet haven’t seem to catch on to the latest desires of the current workforce: Student Loan Debt Repayment Assistance.

Be The Driving Force In Your Industry

The Student Loan Advisory Group can help your company establish an attractive benefits program revolving around student loan debt counseling and repayment assistance. Attract more talent—and retain them by helping your employees to relieve the stressful financial burden a higher education has become. It is after, the hottest employee benefit in 2019.